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Welcome to African Archaeology!

The Journal of African Archaeology is an international peer-reviewed periodical appearing half-yearly since 2003. It publishes original papers addressing recent research and developments in African archaeology and related disciplines. The journal's main purpose is to provide scholars and students with a new pan-African forum for discussing relevant topics on the cultural dynamics of past African societies.

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Vol. 5 (1) 2007

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V.M. Fernández, I. de la Torre, L. Luque, A. González-Ruibal & J.A. López-Sáez

A Late Stone Age sequence from West Ethiopia: the sites of K'aaba and Bel K'urk'uma (Assosa, Benishangul-Gumuz Regional State)

Journal of African Archaeology, Vol. 5 (1), 2007, pages 91-126, DOI 10.3213/1612-1651-10087

Abstract
In this paper, the results of the test excavations in two rock shelters in the Central Ethiopian escarpment near the Sudanese border are presented. A continuous sequence of quartz lithic industry, from the lowest levels of K'aaba (with an archaic MSA-like industry of side-scrapers, Levallois-discoid cores and unifacial points) to the upper levels of Bel K'urk'umu (with a LSA industry, characterised by elongated flakes and end-scrapers, that still displays many archaic features such as centripetal flakes and cores) may be inferred. The escarpment's mountainous and forested areas may have acted as a refuge zone from the end of the Pleistocene, when hyper-arid conditions deterred hu-man occupation of the Sudanese plains nearby, and may also have been a cause for the cultural archaism of the late MSA groups, a case similar to others recorded in the African continent (South Africa, Zimbabwe, Nile Valley). The arrival of Sudanese pottery in the mid-Holocene period may be explained by the onset of arid conditions that drove "aqualithic" groups and early herders towards more humid areas. The conservative character of the late prehistoric cultural sequence derived from both sites is consistent with the resilient traditional nature of the Nilo-Saharan groups that currently settle the Ethio-Sudanese borderlands.

Résumé
Cet article présente les résultats des sondages dans deux abris-sous-roche proches de l'escarpement central éthiopien, près de la frontière du Soudan. Une évolution continue de l'industrie lithique en quartz peut y être ob-servée, des niveaux les plus bas de K'aaba (une industrie archaïque du type MSA avec des racloirs, des nucleus Levallois-discoïdes et des pointes unifaciales) aux niveaux supérieurs de Bel K'urk'umu (une industrie LSA définie par des éclats allongés et des grattoirs qui montre toujours des caractéristiques archaïques telles que des éclats et des nucleus centripètes). Les secteurs montagneux et boisés de l'escarpement ont pu servir de zone de refuge depuis la fin du Pléistocène, quand les conditions hyperarides ont empêché l'occupation humaine des plaines soudanaises proches, et ont peut-être été l'une des causes du conser-vatisme culturel des derniers groupes de MSA, un fait déjà observé dans d'autres parties du continent africain (Afrique du Sud, Zimbabwe, vallée du Nil). L'arrivée de la poterie soudanaise au cours de l'Holocène moyen peut être expliquée par les conditions arides qui poussèrent les «aqualithiques» et premiers bergers vers des secteurs plus humides. L'archaïsme de la culture LSA découverte dans les deux sites rappelle celle des groupes Nilo-Sahariens qui habitent actuellement la frontière éthio-soudanaise.




Keywords: Later Stone Age, lithic technology, Mesolithic-Neolithic pottery, Middle Stone Age, Western Ethiopia


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